For his ambitious attempts to upend politics-as-usual in the 14,000 city of Windham, NH, the campaign manager for Donald Trump’s 2016 dash through the Republican primaries won a write-up in the New York Times.
Windham is now pivotal to Trump in a new direction.
The former president’s ever-shifting plans to demonstrate that he did not lose the 2020 election, despite the fact that he did, have focused for the time being on an anomalous recount in Windham’s 2020 state representative race.
“You’re watching New Hampshire,” he told the crowd at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., during an apparently impromptu speech there last week. “They found a lot of votes up in New Hampshire just now. You saw that.”
This, he said, was further proof that the 2020 election was “rigged.” Yet, perhaps unsurprisingly, the truth in Windham is more complicated than the former president says.
The issue in Windham emerged when a Democratic nominee named Kristi St. Laurent sought a recount in the race for four state legislature seats.
Eight candidates competed, four from each major political party, with the top four receiving votes. After the ballots were counted, St. Laurent came in fifth place by a margin of 24 votes.
However, after the recount, she was defeated by a margin of over 400 points.
The recount revealed that all four Republicans had received approximately 300 more votes than were counted in the original tally — and that St. Laurent had received 99 more votes than she warranted.
It’s unclear why. The town issued a statement outlining its assessment of the situation. It says, in part:
“While the paper work and procedures related to the election night results and the recount are still under review, an explanation of what may have occurred is not obvious. … There is a significant human element in conducting New Hampshire elections, and a simple human error impacting the count one way or the other cannot be ruled out. However, jumping to conclusions of what caused the disparity at this point is mere speculation and conjecture.”
Unfortunately for the town, Trump and his supporters like jumping to conclusions. Especially because, as the statement goes on to say, the votes were counted using an AccuVote method — a corporation owned by Dominion Voting Systems.
Dominion has regularly been at the center of accusations of widespread manipulation in the 2020 election, despite the fact that those making such claims have been repeatedly and forcefully pressured to withdraw their claims.
“Dominion Voting Systems has never manufactured or programmed the devices used in New Hampshire,” the aforementioned assertion states at one point, but those making false statements always ignore such information.
The presumption seems to be that the undercounting of votes for Republican candidates in Windham would trickle up to Trump.
Windham was an unexpected epicenter for claims that they attempted to hand the election to Biden, according to the initial count announced by the area, with Trump defeating Joe Biden by 629 votes.
If Trump’s votes were still undercounted by 300 votes, his margin of defeat in the state would shrink from just over 59,000 to just under 59,000.
More generally, Trump will have you think that this anomaly shows that vote counting nationwide is suspicious, that these AccuVote devices misfired all over the place, clouding the final election outcome.
The Windham statement notes that there were 15 other recounts in New Hampshire after the 2020 election, none of which had similar mistakes, but when your whole theory is based on cherry-picking inconsistencies, that’s hardly a deterrent.
By the way, all of this happened months ago. The recount to which Trump evidently alluded was concluded by the end of November, and the state proceeded with its investigation into where the mistake happened.
A complete audit of the town’s results is currently underway. Gov. Chris Sununu (R) has vowed to “get to the root of the problem,” with the aim of ensuring that “even though it may have been a small problem, it isn’t systematic across anything.”
The audit, which is set to begin shortly, has gotten a lot of coverage in right-wing newspapers, which may have led Trump to believe this was a new problem.
Republican advocates have objected to the political scientist selected to represent the town during the process, claiming that his opposition to the Arizona recall of the 2020 election demonstrates prejudice.
In reality, there are several explanations for an impartial analyst to be skeptical of the Arizona effort.
Since there are very few chances available for Trump to elevate allegations of wrongdoing, the survival of this chance is of utmost significance.
Again, it is unclear whether the tally in Windham was incorrect. What is obvious is that, even though Trump won every single vote in town, it has no bearing on the outcome in New Hampshire or the presidential election in general — nor does it actually imply any structural issue with vote-counting.
It’s a strange little glitch in a small town in a small state. It can, however, serve a campaign searching for some flaw somewhere as proof that the whole structure is collapsing.